POLISH WORK AND ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY HELP IN THE SITUATION OF PANDEMIA OF COVID-19

Kategoria: Konferencje|Wiadomości

10 Cze 2020

Polish Association of Organizational Psychology organized  the 4th Convention of  the Polish Association of Organizational Psychology (PSPO) in Warsaw held on-line on 21-22 May 2020.

The workshops were organized during the Convention The  goal of the workshops  was to present and share approaches for showing the usefulness of work and organizational  psychology in the situation of pandemia of COVID-19. Psychologists should help policy makers to improve their responses on both crises, because both of them involve behavioral responses and international applied psychology can help here.

The organizers  made a diagnosis of most significant problems occurring at work and  – as work and organizational  psychologists –  were reflecting on a manner which could be employed to facilitate their solution.  COVID-19 has a significant impact on all aspects relating to work and organizational processes. The pandemic and the resultant crises caused changes in the functioning of companies and exerted influence on employees. On one hand, we are confronted with unemployment and collapses of companies, and, on the other, the situation has revealed that there is a number of opportunities created through the development of remote working, changes in management relations and coping with something very difficult consequences, which might be used in the future.

At the 4th Convention the specific areas most affected by the pandemic and the crisis were defined and it was  indicated that it is necessary to face up to negative implications, as well as we demonstrated positive aspects, that is the potential for managing new situations.

Rise of uncertainty

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a dramatic rise of uncertainty among employees and employers. A considerable number of employees came face-to-face with substantial changes in work organization, or even the impossibility to perform their work. Lack of experience with a remote working model and with intensive application of communication technology has given rise to strong negative emotions and stress. Many organizations got confronted with a real threat of bankruptcy. Consequently, an anxiety over the very existence and continuation of further careers arose in thousands of employees and managers. All the organizational changes have been ongoing under significant time pressure.  A number of employees and managers admitted that they take pride in rising up to this challenge. A sense of relief that the situation is returning to normal is also experienced by many people, however, a sense of uncertainty will remain in many companies and institutions for a longer time.

Necessity to work from home

The necessity to work from home forced large groups of employees from various lines of business to get familiarized with modern information technology solutions in a fast and effective manner. This escalated – particularly at the beginning – to a high level of tension, but, in the long run, it led to acquiring of valuable competences by employees, managers and entire companies. It would be advisable not to withdraw from or abandon new solutions and procedures but to continue to use them, in particular in such areas where they proved effective.

Home working for a lot of people entailed redefining of their relations with family members. Families had to accept the fact that a home-working person is actually at home but is not available to them all the time. Conflicts brought about by such situation were a source of decreased well-being and resulted in negative mental and healthy implications.

Employers’ problems

Huge stress induced by numerous causes  appeared among supervisors, managers and company owners. The main reason is a sense of uncertainty about the future observed on an unprecedented scale and is related to the necessity to rebrand or even a company’s breakdown. In particular, the industry sectors most severely affected were tourism, catering and services. It is noticeable  that there is the lower demand for certain competences while other skills and specific professions have increased in importance. A separate issue is a technological change and its considerable acceleration. Many employers have had none or little experience with the organization of remote working. Some employers could be accustomed to using physical control over their employees and they could perceive their power in this way, which was subjected to a complete change, literally day by day. However, the changes introduced in the field of technological applications may constitute a big asset for employers, such as electronic circulation of documents, reduced printing or travelling costs, etc.

Work organization problems

The issues connected with work overload or underload are observable and we can see that there is a growing need for enhancement of computer literacy among employees. Work organization poses a logistical challenge for managers who have to take account of such aspects as the lack of equipment, the necessity to exercise control without direct verification of a manner in which work is performed or the lack of legal regulations regarding new work models.

Likewise, employees who began to discharge their duties through home working were made to structuralize their work schedule by themselves, for which they were not always prepared.

In view of the current situation, special assistance should be offered to all health professionals and they should be provided with any help in solving work organization problems occurring during their struggle with the pandemic.

Problems viewed from HR perspective

The consequence of the pandemic and economic crisis is underestimation of HR importance by employers and a tendency to downsize employment in the sections managing human resources. It is a short-sighted view since in the era of the crisis, the on-going pandemic situation, a growing unemployment rate and a large likelihood of the increased demand for home working, it is HR specialists who will offer solutions to issues regarding human resources management in new circumstances.    

The participants of the Convention declared that as the  Work and Organizational Psychologists, we have the authority to provide competent assistance in solving the above described problems. Employers may seek help from us, and we, in turn, will take action relying on our factual knowledge and skills making use of the latest research findings and good practices.

Signed:  EC Committee of Polish Association of Organizational Psychology: Barbara Kozusznik, Joanna Czarnota-Bojarska, Sylwiusz Retowski, Stanislaw Witkowski, Malgorzata Chrupala-Pniak, Michal Brol, Bohdan Roznowski

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